Saint-Saens, Charles Camille

COMPOSER (FRANCE)
BORN 9 Oct 1835, Paris - DIED 16 Dec 1921, Algiers
REAL NAME Saint-Saens, Charles Camille
GRAVE LOCATION Paris: Montparnasse Cimetière (division 13)

Camille Saint-Saens was the son of Jacques-Joseph-Victor Saint-Saëns (1798-1835), who worked for the Ministry of the Interior. His father died of consumption shortly after his birth and he lived in Paris with his mother. He received piano lessons from Camille-Marie Stamaty when he was only seven years old and he debuted at the Salle Pleyel when he was ten years old. At school he was a brilliant student.

In 1848 he entered the Conservatory in Paris. In 1851 he won the top prize for organists and he started studying composition with Fromental Halévy. After he left the conservatory in 1853 he became organist at the Saint-Merri church in Paris. After he won a prize as a composer his career was supported by Rossini, Berlioz, Liszt and Pauline Viardot. In 1858 he became the organist of La Madeleine in Paris. He worked as a teacher at the Niedermeyer school, where Gabriel Fauré was his pupil.

During the Franco-Prussian War he served in the National Guard. During the Paris Commune he escaped to England. In 1871 he returned to France. In 1875 he married the nineteen year old Marie-Laure Truffot, the sister of one of his pupils.Their two sons died in infancy and hte marriage wasn't happy.

His opera "Samson and Delilah" premiered in Weimar on 2 December 1877 in a German translation, but it was only staged at the Paris Opera in 1892. In 1881 he suddenly left his wife and they never saw each other again. She returned to her family and lived until 1950.

During the 1880s he was popular in England, and he led a travelling existence, often visiting England and Germany, but also countries in Africa. From 1900 until his death in 1921 he lived in a flat in the rue de Courcelles in Paris. In 1913 he gave a farewell performance as a pianist, but because of the First World War he soon returned and gave many performances to raise money for charities. His recital in November 1921 sounded as good as ever but in December he died of a heart attack in Algiers.

He received a state funeral at La Madeleine and his widow Marie-Laure was among the mourners. He was buried at the Montparnasse Cemetery.

Related persons
• was teacher to Fauré, Gabriel Urbain
• was a friend of Holmès, Augusta
• was teacher to Jaëll, Marie
• met Panthès, Marie

Events
1870/6/26: Premiere of Wagner's "Die Walküre" at the Hoftheater in Munich
Wagner wanted to stage it in 1871, but Ludwig II of Bavaria was the legal owner of the piece and didn't want to wait. Wüllner was the conductor and Joachim, Brahms, Saint-Saëns and Liszt were in the audience. Wagner wasn't there and Ludwig also stayed away. He had decided to wait for the second performance so that he would be able to see "Das Rheingold", that would be staged again during the summer, and "Die Walküre" in the right order.
1877/12/2: Premiere of "Samson et Dalila" by Saint-Saens in Weimar
The opera was performed at the Grossherzogliches Theater in a German translation. The part of Dalila was written for Pauline Viardot but she was no long able to sing it and it went to Auguste von Müller. The conductor was Eduard Lassen.

Sources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camille_Saint-Sa%C3%ABns

Images

The grave of Charles Camille Saint-Saens at the Cimetière Montparnasse, Paris.
Picture by Androom (18 Feb 2016)

 


Sais, Tatjana

Published: 16 Jun 2017
Last update: 16 Jun 2017